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Tax Incentives and the Demand for Life Insurance: Evidence from Italy


  • Jappelli, Tullio
  • Pistaferri, Luigi


The theoretical literature suggests that taxation can have a large impact on household portfolio selection and allocation. In this Paper we consider the tax treatment of life insurance, considering the cancellation of tax incentives in Italian life insurance contracts for investors with high marginal tax rates and the introduction of incentives for those with low rates. Using repeated cross-sectional data from 1989 to 1998, we find that the tax reforms had no effect on the decision to invest in life insurance or the amount invested. The likely explanations are the lack of information and lack of commitment to long-term investment.

Suggested Citation

  • Jappelli, Tullio & Pistaferri, Luigi, 2001. "Tax Incentives and the Demand for Life Insurance: Evidence from Italy," CEPR Discussion Papers 2787, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:2787

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Luigi Guiso & Tullio Jappelli, 2000. "Household Portfolios in Italy," CSEF Working Papers 43, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    2. James M. Poterba & Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1996. "How Retirement Saving Programs Increase Saving," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 91-112, Fall.
    3. James Banks & Tanner, Tanner, 2000. "Household portfolios in the UK," IFS Working Papers W00/14, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    4. Hochguertel, Stefan & Alessie, Rob & van Soest, Arthur, 1997. " Saving Accounts versus Stocks and Bonds in Household Portfolio Allocation," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 99(1), pages 81-97, March.
    5. James M. Poterba, 2001. "Taxation and Portfolio Structure: Issues and Implications," NBER Working Papers 8223, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Jeffrey Brown, 2001. "Are the Elderly Really Over-Annuitized? New Evidence on Life Insurance and Bequests," NBER Chapters,in: Themes in the Economics of Aging, pages 91-126 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. King, Mervyn A. & Leape, Jonathan I., 1998. "Wealth and portfolio composition: Theory and evidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 155-193, June.
    8. Feldstein, Martin S, 1976. "Personal Taxation and Portfolio Composition: An Econometric Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(4), pages 631-650, July.
    9. Eric M. Engen & William G. Gale & John Karl Scholz, 1996. "The Illusory Effects of Saving Incentives on Saving," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 113-138, Fall.
    10. Gary V. Engelhardt, 1996. "Tax Subsidies and Household Saving: Evidence from Canada," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(4), pages 1237-1268.
    11. Tullio Jappelli & Marco Pagano, 1994. "Government Incentives and Household Saving in Italy," NBER Chapters,in: Public Policies and Household Savings, pages 105-132 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jappelli, Tullio & Pistaferri, Luigi, 2007. "Do people respond to tax incentives? An analysis of the Italian reform of the deductibility of home mortgage interests," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 247-271, February.
    2. Jappelli, Tullio & Pistaferri, Luigi, 2003. "Tax Incentives to Saving and Borrowing," CEPR Discussion Papers 3881, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Luigi Guiso & Tullio Jappelli & Mario Padula, 2009. "Pension Risk, Retirement Saving and Insurance," CSEF Working Papers 223, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    4. Luigi Guiso & Tullio Jappelli, 2000. "Household Portfolios in Italy," CSEF Working Papers 43, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    5. Harris, Timothy & Yelowitz, Aaron, 2015. "Racial Disparities in Life Insurance Coverage," MPRA Paper 64005, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Silvia Jordan & Corinna Treisch, 2010. "The perception of tax concessions in retirement savings decisions," Qualitative Research in Financial Markets, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 2(3), pages 157-184, October.
    7. repec:eee:quaeco:v:66:y:2017:i:c:p:127-135 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Mathias Sommer, 2007. "Savings motives and the effectiveness of tax incentives – an analysis based on the demand for life insurance in Germany," MEA discussion paper series 07125, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
    9. Renata Bottazzi & Tullio Jappelli & Mario Padula, 2009. "The Portfolio Effect of Pension Reforms," Working Papers 2009_17, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
    10. J. François Outreville, 2011. "The relationship between insurance growth and economic development - 80 empirical papers for a review of the literature," ICER Working Papers 12-2011, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
    11. Sauter, Nicolas & Winter, Joachim, 2010. "Do investors respond to tax reform? Evidence from a natural experiment in Germany," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 108(2), pages 193-196, August.
    12. Tullio Jappelli & Luigi Pistaferri, 2002. "Tax Incentives for Household Saving and Borrowing," CSEF Working Papers 83, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    13. Nicolas Sauter & Jan Walliser & Joachim Winter, 2010. "Tax Incentives, Bequest Motives, and the Demand for Life Insurance: Evidence from two Natural Experiments in Germany," CESifo Working Paper Series 3040, CESifo Group Munich.
    14. Nuno C. Martins & Ernesto Villanueva, 2003. "The impact of interest-rate subsidies on long-term household debt: Evidence from a large program," Economics Working Papers 713, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    15. Juan Ayuso & Juan F. Jimeno & Ernesto Villanueva, 2007. "The effects of the introduction of tax incentives on retirement savings," Working Papers 0724, Banco de España;Working Papers Homepage.

    More about this item


    Portfolio Choice; Saving; Tax Incentives;

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General


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